Bunka (elephant)

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Bunka the elephant at the Yerevan Zoo, Armeni. Photo: Mark Stratton
Bunka the elephant at the Yerevan Zoo, Armeni. Photo: Mark Stratton
SpeciesAsian elephant (Elephas maximus)
BornDec 30, 2007
Tbilisi Zoo, Georgia
Captive atYerevan Zoo, Armeni
Parent(s)Mother: Malka Father: Bacho
Bunka at Yerevan Zoo, Armenia. Photo credit: Mark Stratton
Bunka at Yerevan Zoo, Armenia. Photo credit: Mark Stratton

Bunka is a solitary Asian elephant living in captivity at the Yerevan Zoo in Armenia. He was born in captivity to parents Malka and Bacho at the Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia on the 30 December 2007. Bunka's father Bacho died in August 2008 at Tbilisi Zoo of autointoxication caused by peritonitis and hemorrhagic of duodenum.

Bunka was originally intended to be transferred to Antwerp Zoo but this did not go ahead, possibly as a result of biosecurity import restrictions at the time. Bukna was transferred to the Yerevan Zoo on the 9 July 2014[1] to replace Grand who was suffering with dental problems and two broken tusks.

Born Free UK describes Bunka's conditions as:

poor conditions, made worse when combined with the freezing winter temperatures in Armenia, provide a bleak existence for elephants. In 2021, Bunka was seen shut in his small inside quarters as snow fell outside, pacing in endless circles. His available outside area is a baren pen with nothing for him to do or stimulate his sad life in any way.[2]

Mark Stratton a British travel writer, broadcaster and photographer started Friends of Bunka with Tina Papadopoulou in April 2021. They began the campaign 'Free Bunka' with a mission to relocate him to a sanctuary.An assessment by Friends of Bunka was performed in November 2022. During the inspection for the report, Bunka's physical health was found to be poor, with signs of malnutrition, weight loss, cracked nails, and dry skin. The lack of proper enclosure and enrichment resulted in boredom and vacuum behavior.[3] The report stated:

We recommend Yerevan Zoo consider the option of releasing Bunka to an established elephant sanctuary. This would be the best option for his future because credible sanctuaries offer large natural spaces that support elephants’ innate behaviours. They also have established management practices that support elephants to re-assert a degree of autonomy and offer opportunities for socialisation and more natural living.[4]


Date Origin Destination
9 July 2014 Tbilisi Zoo, Georgia Yerevan Zoo, Armenia

Previous elephants at Yerevan Zoo

  • Vova who was killed aged 43 after destroying a barricade and escaping the zoo.[5]
  • Candy whose cause of death is unknown.

See also


External links